Scott Ressmeyer and 15 riding companions were showered with hugs and kisses Friday as they embarked on a three-week motorcycle ride across the country.
The men rode out of town for the sixth annual Scotts Ride for Miracles to benefit Childrens Miracle Network (CMN) at Midtown Medical Center. They were escorted by law enforcement from the Columbus Police and Harris County Sheriffs departments.
Before leaving, the riders received a hearty send-off from a crowd of more than 200 relatives, friends, hospital employees and community supporters who gathered in front of the medical center. Among those present were Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, Columbus Medical Center Chief Executive Officer Ryan Chandler, and Dr. Joseph Zanga, chief of pediatrics. Speakers wished the riders Godspeed and a productive journey.
Ressmeyer, co-owner of Countrys Barbecue, reflected on how much the philanthropic ride has grown since he started five years ago. When it began, he rode alone to celebrate his 50th birthday. People thought he was crazy, he said, but on Friday he was surrounded by 15 other people crazy enough to travel with him to the 48 contiguous states in 21 days.
Our goal is to make a difference in one childs life, he said. Our goal is to walk into a hospital room and bring a smile to a child. Our goal is tell the rest of the country what a great community Columbus, Ga., is and what great doctors, and great nurses and great staff we have at Columbus Regional.
So far, the charity has raised more than $650,000 to purchase equipment for the Neonatal Intensive Care and Pediatric Intensive Care units at the hospital. Ressmeyer says the ultimate goal is to raise $1 million from all the rides.
Harris County Sheriff Mike Jolley is among those making the trip. Other riders are Rick Stinson, Brian Brock, Kevin Simms, James Leatherwood, Billy Edmundson, James Cole, Brad Hansen, David McNeil, Steve Tennant, Mike Langford, Ken Tidwell, Gary McDowell, Mike Cunningham and Ronnie Wilson.
Each rider is paying for his own expenses and is responsible for raising $2,500 during the nearly 9,000-mile trek across the United States. The riders plan to visit patients at hospitals along the way and blog about their experiences. The community will be able to read their blog, comment and track their travels at www.rideformiracles.com.
The group will return to the National Infantry Museum on May 23, escorted by law enforcement. And a celebration will be held in Uptown to welcome them home, organizers said. At Fridays event, Ressmeyer introduced an honorary rider, Martin Thiele, a 17-year-old Midtown Medical Center patient who is in remission after a three-year battle with cancer. Last year, Thiele rode with the group from Macon back to Columbus. This year, he will fly out to Washington state, jump on the back of one of the motorcycles and ride with the guys to some the most beautiful parts of the country," according to Ressmeyer, ending in Montana.
Thiele said last year was his first time riding on a motorcycle and hes looking forward to the trip.
Its been very good, he said of his involvement with Scotts Ride for Miracles. I feel a lot better than I have in a long time.